Lambeth Labour have called on the Government to withdraw its undemocratic assault on worker’s rights, with a motion submitted to a meeting of Lambeth Council next week against the Trade Union Bill. The Bill, introduced by the Conservative Government, is nothing more than a politically motivated attack on the ability of unions to represent their workers and on the right of workers to go on strike, as a last resort, if employers are unwilling to negotiate.
As a Labour Council, we recognise the vital roles that trade unions play in representing workers who have been unfairly treated and providing constructive relations between workers and employers. In Lambeth, we have a good relationship with our unions and are working together, through tough times imposed by the Conservative Government, to protect services. Yet this Bill undermines local democracy by completely overriding the ability of councils and trade unions to develop those constructive relations. Basic rights in the workplace, such as to allow union representatives time to undertake their duties representing their colleagues or to pay their union memberships through payroll, will be scrapped by this illiberal law.
Even more worryingly, the Bill requires extremely high levels of turnout to approve strike actions, with even higher thresholds for workers in various public services. At a time when the Government is decimating public services with funding cuts, unilaterally changing worker’s terms and conditions and imposing a public sector pay freeze, they want to stamp out any protest by restricting their right to strike as well. It is particularly hypocritical that the threshold is imposed on unions by a Government that won support from just 24% of the public in May.
The Government claim that this is simply stopping undemocratic strikes and providing greater support for workers. But the Bill has been introduced at a time when strikes are at their lowest ever levels. If they really did care about ensuring a proper turnout, they could support moves to let workers vote electronically. But they have rejected this out of hand. These moves reveal their true intentions; the Bill is there to undermine the ability of workers to exercise their basic right to remove their labour and to weaken the trade union movement, which they oppose, by cutting their funding. This is a transparently political assault on those who oppose this Government and is nothing more than an abuse of power. We will oppose this all the way, by maintaining our constructive relationship with local trade unions and calling on the Government to withdraw this shameful legislation.
Cllr Paul McGlone
Deputy Leader, Lambeth Council